With a 7-3 win over New York on Thursday, a group of preteens from Peachtree City will compete for the U.S. Championship at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Representing Georgia and the Southeast Region, the Peachtree City (4-1) team will face Hawaii (3-0) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.
Heading into Saturday’s game, the Peachtree City boys are swinging hot bats. They’ve scored 21 runs in Williamsport, which is tied for the most in the tournament this year.
Tai Peete has led the way for Peachtree City at the plate, getting seven hits and scoring four runs so far. Jansen Kenty has also scored four runs and has three RBIs in the tournament, and from the mound he’s struck out 21 batters over 11.1 innings of work.
How they got here
Peachtree City won the Southeast Region tournament by beating teams from Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Once they were named region champs, Peachtree City was on to Williamsport, where it lost its opening game to Hawaii.
But Peachtree City bounced back and won four straight games in the last week, beating teams from Idaho, Texas, Michigan and most recently, New York.
Peete pitched five innings for Peachtree City in its win over New York, striking out five batters. At the plate he had two hits. Peachtree City played error-free defense and at the plate, it got a combined four RBIs from James Hooper and John Calabrese.
What’s at stake?
A win against Hawaii would give Georgia a shot at winning its first Little League World Series title since 2007 when a team from Warner Robins defeated Tokyo, Japan 3-2 in eight innings, thanks to a walk-off home run from Dalton Carriker. In the tournament, that Georgia team faced now-Dodgers star Cody Bellinger. Warner Robins pitcher Kendall Scott didn’t surrender a hit to him.
This will be Georgia’s fourth appearance in the U.S. title game. It is 3-0 in its previous trips.
The last team from metro Atlanta to win the Little League World Series was Marietta in 1983.
“Honestly, I don’t think any of us are aware of the scale of what’s going on,” Peachtree City coach Patrick Gloriod told 92.9 The Game. “I don’t think that (the players) realize what’s going on. I don’t think I realize what’s going on right now. We kind of live in a bubble.”
When’s the last time a Georgia team made the Little League World Series?
Peachtree City is the first team from Georgia to represent the Southeast in Williamsport since 2011, when a team from Warner Robins reached the third round of the tournament, finishing 2-2. Starring for that team was Jake Fromm, now the starting quarterback for the University of Georgia football team. In that tournament, he hit three home runs, had eight RBIs and also struck out 11 batters.
A team from Georgia has been to the Little League World Series six times since 2001.
Scouting the opponent
The team standing in Peachtree City’s way for a U.S. Championship and a berth in the Little League World Series title game is a familiar one. A team from Honolulu represents the West Region, and last Friday night it handed Peachtree City its only loss in Williamsport.
In an 11-inning affair, the Hawaiian team emerged as the victors after Aukai Kea blasted a pitch over the left-center field wall for a walk-off two-run homer, giving Hawaii a 2-0 win. The loss sent Peachtree City into the consolation bracket, but the team has persevered and finds itself with another shot at Hawaii.
Kea also figures to be the best pitcher for the Hawaiian side. He threw 6.1 innings against Peachtree City in their first meeting, striking out 10 batters while allowing just two hits and a walk. In his most recent start, he tossed 4.1 innings and gave up just one hit.
Sean Yamaguchi has also been solid in the tournament as a pitcher and batter. He has five hits in 10 at-bats with five RBIs. On the mound, he’s pitched 2.1 innings, tallying five strikeouts and allowing just one hit.
While the Hawaiian team has torn through the competition in Williamsport, a storm is threatening the player’s home. CNN reported Friday afternoon that Hurricane Lane was a Category 2 storm and had dumped 31 inches of rain on Hawaii. The state’s Governor urged residents to stock up on two weeks’ worth of supplies.
The team’s skipper, Gerald Oda, has called his team “the hope.”
How you can watch
The game will be aired live on ABC. That’s Channel 2 Action News for folks in metro Atlanta. The game can also be streamed on the Watch ESPN app. First pitch is a 3:30 p.m.